"Christ in the Desert" by Ivan Kramskoi‘A Lenten Prayer’ by Joe Tessitore The Society February 24, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 23 Comments . Of all Creation, who am I Who sins against Thee, Lord Most High? Of all that crawl, of those who creep, No one has ever sunk so deep. Of those who swim and those who fly, Least of them all, this sinner, I. There’s nothing else can go so low Yet still You love me, Lord I know. Beneath the worm—his conscience clear— Not even he has tunneled here. Worst of them all, I can’t deny Yet still You love me, Lord Most High. The wise old owl, the mighty bear, Neither would dare to venture there. . . Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 23 Responses Margaret Coats February 24, 2021 Joe, your careful wording here makes this prayer not just a sinner’s lamenting mea culpa, but an effective guided meditation. There is progress first from “have sunk” (1st quatrain) to “can go” (2nd quatrain); the sinner is no longer in the utter depths, but has climbed up through his recognition of the Lord’s love, first expressed in the 2nd quatrain. That recognition of divine love is repeated in the 3rd quatrain, even though the sinner is still “here,” where he forthrightly says he can’t deny he is worst of all creatures because of his sin. With this confession from heart and lips, the sinner makes the most remarkable progress in the couplet, moving away from the 3rd quatrain lowly “here,” which in the couplet becomes “there” (a place where owl and bear wouldn’t go). But it can only be “there” if the sinner is no longer “there.” Lovely way of looking at creation and rising back to where the animals are–and even higher, perhaps, as their knowledge of God’s love is not something they can use for intellectual reflection, or expression in words. Thank you! Reply Joe Tessitore February 25, 2021 You see so much, Margaret, certainly so much more than I do! Thank you for sharing your beautiful insights with us – what more can a poet ask for? Reply Corey Elizabeth Jackson February 24, 2021 I love the gentle yet effective rhyming in this heartfelt prayer to the Lord. Particularly appealing is your imaginative imagery of the pure and simple creatures of the earth. The narrator’s humility described within this context is touching and introspective. Reply Joe Tessitore February 25, 2021 You gave me the wise old owl (and so the closing couplet) at the very last minute. Thank you, Corey. Reply C.B. Anderson February 25, 2021 I noticed that, Joe. I, too, have had owls on my mind these past few days. Paul Freeman February 24, 2021 As Corey says, the heartfelt-ness (!) of the message and the rhythmic nature of a prayer comes through at the fore amidst the strictures of the sonnet form. Not many poets could manage that, to be perfectly honest. Reply Joe Tessitore February 25, 2021 Thank you Paul, very much! Reply Rohini February 25, 2021 Beautifully said, utterly moving. Reply Joe Tessitore February 25, 2021 As is your comment! Thank you Rohini, very much! Reply Jeff Kemper February 25, 2021 Joe, I wish I could analyze a poem as Margaret does, but alas! . . . I love your poem, but to me it is not just a Lentin poem. The Christian traditions I’ve been associated with do not observe Lent, but even if I were to observe it, your prayer is rather an everyday reminder of what God has done through Christ for me. I recently pondered the words of Jesus to Judas to the effect that it would have been better if the latter had not been born. It occurred to me that this could be said of everyone who rejects Christ, even if his rejection appears less direct than that of Judas. And because I was in that category till God shed his grace on me (undeservedly!), the horrifying truth becomes a miraculous thing of eternal beauty. Thanks for the beautiful reminder! Reply C.B. Anderson February 25, 2021 There is a theory, Jeff, that Judas (a Zealot) wanted Jesus to exercise his divine power to overthrow the Romans. Alas, for him, that was not the plan, but without his perfidy it would have been a longer road to the crucifixion, upon which all depended and still depends. It’s not my theory. See I, Judas by Taylor Caldwell. Just a thought. Reply Jeff Kemper February 25, 2021 Oh, I also believe that was a major part of Judas’s enterprise. Oddly enough, I recently wrote a poem called “I, Judas”! Bethany Mootsey February 25, 2021 I’ve heard it said that the closer we are to the Lord, the more aware we are of our own sin. I’ve found this true in my own life. My favorite line is, “Beneath the worm–his conscience clear–not even he has tunneled here.” Powerful analogy! Reply Joe Tessitore February 25, 2021 Thank you, Bethany and Jeff. This poem was a wonderful surprise for me – I didn’t attribute all that much to it, and yet it’s touched people rather deeply. Reply C.B. Anderson February 25, 2021 This is a lovely meditation, Joe. I would say that you and I are fellow worms, but since worms have no free will they are sinless, unlike we who know full well what we do. Just a note for future reference: In the last line of the second stanza, there should be a comma after “Lord.” The addressee of a statement should be bracketed by two commas. No worries, though — no one will have missed what you meant to write, and you wrote it well. Reply Joe Tessitore February 26, 2021 Thanks for the comment and the punctuation tip, C.B.. As I write, I’m inclined toward the two commas, but then wonder if I’m not over-punctuating, especially in this age of minimalism. A friend complained to me that he texted his son and in reply got “k”, not even “OK”. P.S. I’m sure you caught the two periods at the end of my first sentence. Reply C.B. Anderson February 26, 2021 The commas are used to provide clarity. Otherwise “Lord I know” is ambiguous. A comma always follows the name of the addressee. I missed the two periods; it was probably corrected before I got to read the poem. Peter Hartley February 25, 2021 Joe – I’m not sure which is better, your poem or Margaret’s exegesis but I wish I had written them both. A sonnet in tetrameter is unusual and you have carried this one off so remarkably well. When I have tried this the words have always tended to gather pace and run away with me (or without me). A very useful devotional aid as well as a good poem. Laus Deus semper. Reply David Watt February 26, 2021 Joe, your prayer in sonnet form is just so smooth and meaningful. It is a piece straight from the heart, which cannot help but touch the heart of readers. Reply Joe Tessitore February 26, 2021 As you and Peter have touched mine. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant February 26, 2021 Joe, I love the way you have captured the humility of man in the face of a loving and all-powerful God. Your beautiful and timely poem offers some much needed perspective in today’s insane and cruel world. Thank you very much. Reply Joe Tessitore February 27, 2021 Thank you, Susan. I had no idea it was going to touch people the way it has. I was surprised when Evan told me he was going to run it. Praise Him from whom comes all good things. Reply an'ya March 4, 2021 Hi Joe, just add me to your list of admirers. A wonderful in-depth write of exquisite perception and excellent precision. Thank you, love ya, an’ya Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.